This is happening at least once a week in Chicago-- paramedics jumped and pummeled--in some cases, by people whose lives they are trying to save. Shortly after an I-Team investigation last month uncovered the growing threat to paramedics, authorities say a DePaul student attacked a female paramedic.
On Monday, fire union officials were at the young man's court appearance to press for felony charges against him, and the I-Team was there.
"I want everyone to know around the entire country to keep your hands off of our paramedics, our fire fighters and our police officers because they are there to help you. They are called to assist you, not to be your personal punching bag," said Tom Ryan, president, Firefighters Local #2.
Chicago paramedic Kelly Begley was dispatched to this DePaul student apartment building on November 1. The call was an intoxicated individual who fell and injured his head.
After Begley arrived, it was her head that was injured, she says, by the student she was called to treat.
According to Cook County prosecutors, Erik Kawar's girlfriend called paramedics when he came home drunk, with a head injury from hitting the pavement. Paramedic Begley testified in a Cook County Court that Kawar swore at her and then hit Begley in the face, giving her a black eye, then pushed her into the wall and fell on her. She ended up transported to Illinois Masonic.
"This to happening repeatedly, since your first story there have been four other cases and that was only a few weeks ago, it's happening on a weekly basis and we are not going to put up with it," said Ryan.
"Our story" is the investigation the I-Team aired on October 2, one month before Begley's alleged assault. We uncovered a growing nationwide problem and disturbing, regular attacks here in Chicago.
On Monday, Kawar was officially charged with a felony and the case will be assigned to a trial judge.
"Is this thing filming?" said Erik Kawar, charged with assaulting paramedic.
"He won't be making any comment," said Adam Grolsch, Kawar's attorney.
"There are very few things you can count on in this world 100%, when you dial 911 we are there every time. And we do not deserve to be assaulted on the scene."
The DePaul student from Naperville is among dozens of defendants in paramedic assault cases being charged now as felonies. The Cook County State's Attorney says the majority of them end in a conviction or a guilty plea. Firefighters' union officials say they think all these cases should be cha